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Tom Orsborn: Former Texas big man Kai Jones interviewed with the #Spurs today at the draft combine in Chicago. "It went really well," he said via Zoom. "I love everything they stand for…It would be a pleasure to be part of that organization.”
Eric Walden: Washington’s Jaden McDaniels had a Zoom interview with the Jazz but no workout. Said he loves the team’s history of player development, wants to utilize that, expects he will spend time in the G League. Looks up to Rudy Gobert as a guy who went thru the G League to become a star.
Ian Begley: Washington's Jaden McDaniels says he's had Zoom calls with both the Knicks and the Nets but didn't have in-person workouts with either local team.
Ian Begley: Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr. said he’s had Zoom interviews with both the Knicks and Nets. He doesn’t want to disclose the teams he’s worked out with but said they include teams both in and outside of the lottery.
Ian Begley: Arizona's Nico Mannion says he's had a Zoom interview with Brooklyn. No in-person workout for BKN or NYK. Mannion said the Raptors, Lakers and Jazz are among the teams he's had in-person workouts with.
Mike Vorkunov: Knicks reached out to schedule a second interview with Stanford PG Tyrell Terry (nothing has materialized yet), according to league sources. Terry seems like a draft riser. Knicks have been looking into point guards but keeping their draft plans tight.
Eric Walden: French point guard Theo Maledon says he interviewed with the Jazz’s front office via Zoom, and then spoke afterward with the team’s sports psychologist. Said he feels like playing alongside a fellow Frenchman like Rudy Gobert would help his transition to the NBA.
Mark Medina: Deni Avdija and Obi Toppin both had interviews with the Warriors. Deni declined to say much, but Obi sensed that "they liked me a lot."
Barry Jackson: I'm told the Heat conducted a private workout with Duke power forward/center Vernon Carey Jr., last week, after interviewing him the day before. Miami has been focusing on several big men in its 10 permitted pre-draft workouts.
Chris Grenham: Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji has met virtually with the Celtics, per source. Nnaji has received good feedback after interviews, and his shooting during workouts has impressed many around the league, including a solid in-person session with the Heat last week.
Jonathan Wasserman: Per source, Onyeka Okongwu meets with the Cleveland Cavaliers this week. Has recently met with the Hornets, Spurs and Wizards.
Additionally, the Chicago Bulls, who have the fourth overall pick, are taking a long, hard look at Haliburton and are scheduled to meet with him next week as well. Haliburton, a 6-foot-5 combo guard, has seen a meteoric rise in his draft stock since the beginning of last season at Iowa State. At the time, he was generally regarded as a mid-to-late first round pick.
Darren Wolfson: I'm also told that Ryan Saunders and Gersson Rosas were in Las Vegas. At one point in recent days meeting with a prospect. I'm told that they will eventually meet with Obi Toppin.
Darren Wolfson: It was not Obi Toppin, but that they will meet with Obi and they hope to meet with James Wiseman. But that one's a slippery slope. They want to get some face time with Wiseman but the Wiseman camp is wondering 'Okay, is James really a fit there in Minnesota? Can he coexist with Karl-Anthony Towns? Does that make sense?' So that meeting may eventually take place presumably in Miami where James is training. But I know there's been some hiccups in the wolves trying to line up some face time with James Wiseman but they are trying to use at least most if not all, of their 10 draft visits.
DBcom reported a few days ago that Dallas has hosted Immanuel Quickley for a visit. Definitely in the case of Thursday's schedule, most of these visits will take the form of "virtual'' sessions, Zoom meetings between the prospects and executives, coaches and scouts from a Mavs franchise that owns picks Nos. 18 and 31 in the upcoming NBA Draft.
A note on the Knicks and the 2020 NBA Draft: New York recently saw former Alabama point guard Kira Lewis Jr. work out in person, SNY sources confirm. Lewis, one of the top point guards in the draft, had previously interviewed with the Knicks over a Zoom call, as SNY reported.
Freddie Gillespie told KSTP that he has virtually interviewed with over half the NBA teams, including the hometown Timberwolves. He's mocked by many experts to go in the second round. Even if he goes undrafted, Gillespie should have opportunities to sign with teams.
Chris Grenham: The Celtics have met with RJ Hampton and are looking to have an in-person workout with him soon, per sources. More info in here, plus my conversation with Hampton on his refined jumper, strengths and pre-draft routine with Mike Miller and Penny Hardaway: https://t.co/qSPrqUDVbL
The Cavs have met virtually with countless prospects, ranging all over the board. The front office has provided coaches with a specific film-breakdown list in anticipation of Nov. 18. Sources say those names have included Toppin, Auburn swingman Isaac Okoro, USC’s Onyeka Okongwu, Memphis’ James Wiseman and Israeli point-forward Deni Avdija.
Chris Grenham: The Celtics have met virtually with Houston’s Nate Hinton, per source. High-character guy with a great motor and solid versatility. His improved 3-point shooting and release could make him a second-round steal. Really underrated prospect people need to keep an eye on.
The Golden State Warriors, legitimate contenders for the NBA title next season, need players who are ready to contribute immediately. Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman was averaging 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game before the season abruptly ended in March. He had been among the most prolific pick-and-roll finishers in all of college basketball. His assist percentage (18.3%) ranked in the top 15 nationally among all players 6-foot-8 or taller.
According to someone with knowledge of the organization who spoke to USA TODAY Sports Media Group on the condition of anonymity, Tillman stood out during his interview with the organization due to his maturity and his excellent basketball IQ.
“I’ve had just two teams: Knicks and Warriors,” Ball said. “That was just like a little Zoom call. Hopefully, everybody is [interested in drafting me]. To be honest, I’m just ready to go out and play; the whole little draft process, [it’s] too much with it.”
Ian Begley: NBA Draft note: Phoenix Suns had a second Zoom interview with Alabama PG Kira Lewis Jr. earlier this week, per team source familiar with the meeting. Suns have the No. 10 pick. Knicks have also interviewed Lewis Jr. over a Zoom call.
With that in mind, HoopsHype spoke with six executives who’ve conducted pre-draft interviews with numerous NBA draft prospects over the years for different teams. The executives shared the worst answers they’ve heard over the years, responses to character questions and outlandish player comparisons that negatively impacted a prospect on their draft board.
Some executives were shocked by the blunt honesty of the prospect, while others learned new intel that wasn’t in their background report. The answers led the executives to downgrade prospects or remove them from their draft board. One longtime Eastern Conference executive asked a prospect if he did drugs. When the player surprisingly said he did, the executive asked what his favorite drug was.
Chris Grenham: DePaul’s Paul Reed has met with the Celtics, according to a source. Reed is an athletic big who can be a real disruptor on the defensive end. Has great value as a second-rounder.
The Raptors have been one of the teams that has shown interest in Nate Darling who said he had a really great interview with the organization. They were impressed by his shooting, he said, and wanted to do their due diligence on the 22-year-old Canadian prospect.
Bryan Kalbrosky: The Golden State Warriors will interview Lamar Stevens this afternoon, per multiple sources. The four-year starter for @PennStateMBB is an athletic forward who is receiving comparisons to Jae Crowder. Interview with @LamarStevens11: bit.ly/33HD7JJ #ClimbWithUs 🦁
Chris Grenham: Adding to the pre-draft list: Oregon guard Payton Pritchard has interviewed with the Celtics, per source.
Desmond Bane has become a Zoom expert. He said last week in an NBA Draft Combine call with reporters that he’d virtually interviewed with 26 teams. It came as no surprise that the Sixers were on that list for the 6-foot-6, 215-pound TCU product whose main selling point is that he can sink long-range jumpers and also do a little bit of everything else. “There’s been a lot of interest with Philly,” Bane said. “We feel good about where we’re at with Philly.”
Bane said his Sixers interview was led by Vince Rozman, the team’s vice president of scouting. He named the Sixers, Suns and Bucks as teams his agent, Seth Cohen of SAC Sports, thought had shown the most interest, in addition to two Bane couldn’t recall at the time. Phoenix’s only pick in the upcoming draft is No. 10, while Milwaukee’s only selection is No. 24. The Sixers own the 21st pick and four second-rounders, including No. 34 and No. 36. “Shooting is a necessity for them; they need a lot of shooting,” Bane said of the Sixers. “Obviously the attention that Ben Simmons and (Joel) Embiid demand is huge, so guys like me are very valuable that can play off the ball and make shots, have similar success to JJ Redick and Landry Shamet in previous years, running off screens. I feel like I can provide some of those same things.”
Tillie had a good interview with the Boston Celtics back in the spring, per a source. With four total picks in this year’s draft, the Celtics will continue to meet with a wide range of players, but this information allows us to explore his potential fit in Boston.
Omar Cooper, Okoro’s agent, said “every team in the NBA has reached out for Isaac Okoro,” including the Timberwolves. “I could see myself fitting in there, playing with D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns,” Okoro said. “I feel like I could come in there and play my role, do whatever the coach needs me to do in the game and just win.”
Hampton hasn’t interviewed with the Mavericks — at least not yet — as the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the tradition draft evaluation process. But some experts predict the former five-star guard who spent last year playing professionally in New Zealand could be available at the Mavericks' No. 18 overall pick in the first round. “Kind of the hometown team,” Hampton said Tuesday in a Zoom press conference during the NBA’s virtual draft combine. “I’ve definitely kept up with the Mavs since I was a baby.” So far, Hampton has virtually interviewed with the Thunder, Pistons, Suns, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Bulls, Wizards and Kings.
Noah Levick: Desmond Bane says the Sixers are one of the 26 teams he’s spoken with and that they have “a lot of interest.” He says Elton Brand wasn’t on his interview and that it was led by VP of scouting Vince Rozman.
Chase Hughes: RJ Hampton says he's working out regularly with Penny Hardaway and Mike Miller in Memphis. Hampton went to play pro in New Zealand instead of college. He says he has interviewed with the Kings, Thunder, Pistons, Suns, Blazers, Knicks, Bulls.
Duane Rankin: #Duke point guard Tre Jones said he's talked with #Suns and is looking forward to continuing that draft process. Jones lived in Minnesota went his brother, Tyus, was with T-Wolves. So he saw #Suns PG Ricky Rubio play there. Sounded excited about idea of learning from Rubio. pic.twitter.com/CK31s4Y9cd
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September 27, 2021 | 11:32 am EDT Update